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Why Sprinklers Are Popping Up Along I-35 In Austin

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT

Most people who have traversed I-35 in Austin have probably had some idle time to sit and think.  And sometimes the thoughts turn to what they would do if they were in charge of highway money.  “I think we need to spend more money on the roads definitely,” says driver Maricela Campos.

Many drivers might agree that new funds spent on the roadways should go toward expanding and improving the actual roadways.  If Campos had her way, “I would do at least one more highway…Austin is growing.  We just need to alleviate the traffic.”

But it doesn’t always work out that way.  If you have been stuck in traffic lately, you might have also had a passing thought about new pipes sticking out of the ground in grassy spots along I-35.  We found out they are part of a new drip irrigation system, put in place by the Texas Department of Transportation.

Soon, the transportation agency will spend about $154,000 to plant 954 trees along the interstate in Austin where the irrigation systems have been put in place.  The hardwoods will range in size from 30 gallons to 100 gallon specimens.

TxDOT is still working out the details of the project, but a spokesman is adamant that the agency is taking on this landscaping project not simply to beautify the sides of state roads.  He says they’re doing it to comply with a state mandate.

The transportation department points out it is under orders from the legislature to plant greenery to improve the environment and help mitigate pollution.  Road officials decided what better place to plant than right near the source where the exhaust is being created. 

“That’s a joke, man,” chuckles Austin driver Mike Banks.  Clearly the explanation for the tree planting project doesn’t give the idea much traction with some traffic weary commuters.  Banks continues, “There are a lot of other things that money needs to be spent on other than trees on the roads”.

An upside though: not too far down the road from now, even if you are stalled in traffic at least the view might be a little more pleasant.  One more upside, says TxDOT, is that federal money—not state funds—are being used to fund the project.

By Jason WheelerWhy Sprinklers Are Popping Up Along I-35 In Austin


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